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Leisurely, get closer to the things that more delight you by going to the places where perfection was reached. Starting in singular and elegant Madrid, go to the heart of the wine country and taste wine made with traditional old-world methods, learn to cook traditional Basque food, and relax on the beach. Come to La Rioja and the Basque Country, where fashionable cities, historic caves, medieval mysteries, and the finest gastronomy are harmoniously found. All surrounded by the remains of the early Celt Iberian settlements, Roman conquerors, and the Christian monarchs.
All your accommodation will be held in comfortable first class hotels.
Upon arrival, you will be picked-up from Madrid airport and transferred to the hotel. At the hotel, you will enjoy a tasty dinner.
Madrid is a gorgeous mix of modernity and history, with a blend of architecture from many eras of Spains rich past. Bustling and full of life, there are many things to do with your day in Madrid; getting around the city is as easy as walking. Today, you will have a guided walking tour to Madrid Central (or old town), including stops for lunch and dinner, starting at the Templo de Debod.
Given to Spain by Egypt, it is a lesser temple, located on a scenic overlook. From the temple, you can walk to the Palace and Plaza Oriente, the Plaza Mayor, and the historic gourmet food market, Mercado de San Miguel, for aperitifs and samples of local food. Then, you are off to the center of the country, Plaza del Sol, and the Hemingway-made, famous Plaza de Santa Ana for lunch. Following lunch comes a sherry tasting in La Venencia, which has historically made its own sherry since the 1800s, and finally, you will end up at the City Hall in Plaza Cibeles.
You will leave Madrid and go to the town of Garray, Soria (2.5 hours by car). On the way, there will be a stop for lunch along the Duero River at one of the many posadas, or roadside restaurants, before heading into Garray. Here, you will have a half day walking tour to Numancia, which was an Iron Age hillfort. It is famous as site of a Roman siege, which became the last stand of the lower Celt Iberian tribes.
Numancia is one of the best-preserved and still active archaeological sites in Spain, and once was the pearl of Celt Iberian society. Roman writers were very respectful towards the defeated Celts, praising their ingenuity and bravery to the point where Numancia became a legend, even in Roman times. From here, you will be transferred to Soria city for accommodation and delicious dinner.
Today, as a companion to your trip to Numancia, take two more exciting archaeological visits: Laguna Negra and Caon del Rio Lobos. Laguna Negra, was created by glaciers and carved into the Urbin mountains millennia ago. Laguna Negra is a gorgeous and one of a kind natural park with an incredible view of the pine forests. There are foxes, deers, and many different kinds of local birds, as well as a few fun surprises along its hiking routes.
Caon del Rio Lobos is a fascinating place, a natural wonder. The canyon is full of life and forest, and also the mysterious hermitage of Saint Bartholomew of the Knights Templar. His monastery is hidden in the hills, not too far of a walk, and well worth the trip. After the hikes, you will return to Soria city for dinner and accommodation. On this night, you are free to explore the city as you please.
Early in the morning, you will continue your journey into La Rioja and leave Soria for La Guardia. La Guardia is a beautiful small town in the mountains just over the border into the Basque Country. You cannot drive into it, because of the age of the town. There are three hundred functioning bodegas with wine cellars under the city - some bodegas are even underneath other bodegas, and the vibrations from too many cars might cause the city to collapse. So, it is ideal for a traveler who wants a quiet place to stay, and an abundance of good food and wine.
Today, you will go on a tour and sample at El Fabulista bodega, one of the many small wineries in the area, which sells to the town and the surroundings. El Fabulista was once the home of Felix Maria de Samaniego, a fable writer from the region. According to the legend, his ghost still hangs around the lower chambers where the wine is made. When you taste the wine, you will understand why. On this night, you are free to explore the city as you please.
Today, you will set off for San Millan de Cogolla and then Logroo, to see the birthplace of the Spanish language, Monastery of Yuso, and later have a tapas lunch in the famous Barrio Laurel. Monastery of Suso dates back to the eleventh century, and according to UNESCO, it is the birthplace of the modern Spanish language, as well as the alleged home of Saint Emilian.
Originally, it was home to an order of hermetic monks, but later in history the area was redeveloped by Benedictine monks who constructed Susos counterpart, the Monastery of Yuso, in the sixteenth century. Suso is 1000 meters up the side of a hill from Yuso, and both hiking and a shuttle bus are available. Then, you will return to La Guardia for dinner and a wine tasting from a local expert.
Today, you will travel to Logroo. Logroo has beautiful art, architecture, well preserved art and architecture from early Christian Spain. In addition, it is rich in nature, and its wild areas hold some interesting secrets. Later on, you will go on a tour of the Casco Antiguo (or old town) for tapas and for taking in the beautiful architecture. Then, you will return to La Guardia for a tasty dinner. On this night, you are free to explore the city as you please.
Today, you will visit San Sebastian. This gorgeous seaside town, called Donostia by the locals, is a small but charming city nestled nicely between the green mountains of Pas Vasco and the Atlantic Ocean.
Today, you can spend the day at your leisure. You can take a tour around San Sebastian or you can choose to relax at the beach.
On this day, you will be transferred to Madrid or Barcelona for outbound flights or you can extend your stay.
This fine wine and food tour will take place in Madrid, Garray, Soria, La Guardia, San Millan de Cogolla, Logroo, and San Sebastian, Spain.
During this tour you will savor local traditional breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
Cooking class. Enjoy a cooking class based around Madrids famous tapas, beautifully crafted appetizers and shared dishes taught in easy-to-make recipes.
El Escorial. Take a guided walking tour of King Phillip IIs summer palace, El Escorial. It is still a functioning monastery and many of the rooms have not been altered since Phillips death in 1598. It also is the resting place of all of the Spanish monarchs save Isabella and Ferdinand, and the mausoleum is open to the public. Along with a breathtaking view of the Sierra de Madrid Mountains, Escorial is a quintessential mountain town with wonderful cuisine and a peaceful atmosphere. From Escorial there is a side trip to the Valley of the Fallen (El Valle de los Caidos), which is a basilica and shrine to the fallen of the Spanish Civil War, and final resting place of Francisco Franco. This trip is a half day and would return to Madrid by dinner.
Museum Hop. For the cost of 44 EUR, an all-day pass can be purchased. The pass gives you access to any museum in the city, the most famous ones being the Royal Palace, the Prado, which houses mostly renaissance art, the Thyssen, which mostly contains art from the late 18th, 19th, and early 20th century, and the Reina Sofia, which features mostly modern art.
You can visit the Monasterio Valvanera, located 35 kilometers south of San Millan de la Cogolla, which sits 1000 meters up a high hill with a lovely view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. There is a restaurant, and the area is still run by the Benedictine monks, who keep homes and garden terraces. It is a worthwhile stop for lunch for the scenery alone.
Cooking class. Take a cooking class at the Sociedad Gastronmica. Basque country is known for its sociedades, which are community centers where people get together to cook, learn, dance, and make music. Learn to cook like a Basque, and share a communal meal!
Sailing tour. Go sailing on a boat with a built in cider bar, on an outing that tours the coast near San Sebastian.
You can take a special horseback ride along the Duero River, where you can see Numancia from below, and ride to the site of the old Roman encampment. Though there is nothing left of it except a marker now, the ride is beautiful and the view of Numancia from the encampment is spectacular.
Please book your flight to arrive at Adolfo Surez MadridBarajas Airport (MAD). Colorfully Spain Travel will pick you up from the airport. The pick-up is included in the price.